Let True Morality Stand Up!

April 20, 2018 Morality No Comments

Basically, two ‘moralities’ can be distinguished: cognitive (thinking) and emotional. However, this is a purely conceptual, abstract distinction. Reality consistently shows them intermingled.

The relevance

is enormous. ‘Morality’ is the basis of culture. Almost all important decisions carry within them a factor of morality, or better: moralities.

‘Stress/distress’ is in all cases related to an emotionally-moral dilemma: Should I do this or that? Should I care for keeping my job? Should I try to do things as well as possible in non-optimal circumstances?…

Without moral dilemmas, there is no psychosomatics, no depression nor anxiety… But there would also be no happiness, no joy, no heroism, no gratefulness…

A soldier in context of war

Two enemy sides, a revealing situation through the extremes:

  • If a soldier intentionally kills a bunch of fellows, he is considered a murderer, court-marshalled, executed.
  • If a soldier intentionally kills a bunch of enemies, he is considered a hero and gets a medallion.
  • With the same victims but the soldier being from the other camp, he is treated in the opposite way.

What result – which bunch getting killed – is right or wrong? A Martian wouldn’t make the difference. Purely cognitively, the Martian may be correct. Emotionally, we don’t generally see it this way.

=> two ‘moralities’?

Brainy stuff

In the brain, we see specific parts being activated when a person is in a cognitively moral situation (*) versus an emotionally moral one (**). Say:

A: You get to kill either 1 or 5 unknown persons, by pushing button ‘1’ or ‘5’.

B: You get the choice to smother your own child or let others kill 5 persons.

DON’T mentally do this exercise please. The point is that the first situation is – again – a mostly cognitive dilemma; the second a mostly emotional one.

Looking inside your brain, very different things would be going on. Your decision would probably be the opposite in A versus B. Yet it would in both cases be the most human one, therefore the morally correct. More specifically, the brainy stuff also doesn’t show us which one is ‘right’: cognitive or emotional morality.

Conclusion: there is no ‘True Morality’

There is a human one.

We are no robots.

Let’s keep it this way.

So, what is ‘human moral progress’?

I think the answer – at least the direction – is twofold and clear:

  • At the individual level, being-moral is being-human, as completely as possible, entailing cognition and emotion. Then, diving into the pool of human-ness. Moral progress at this level results from doing your best to be-human, completely, thus also within the boundaries of our evolution as a species even as we try to transgress these boundaries. A point of departure may be a synthesis of the five ‘aurelian’ values: depth, openness, respect, freedom, trustworthiness.
  • (Here one can see another level: the ‘cultural’. In my view, this is in practice something like the individual, in theory something like the universal.)
  • At the universal level, ‘morality-as-concept’ lies in clear-cut, abstract thinking about this. Such thinking is also about emotion, without emotion. Key question: what is ‘the good’ and how can it be attained for as many as possible? This is: how can one let humans ‘be-human, as completely as possible’ – this is: be-moral – as well as possible? At this level, moral progress lies in the quality of the abstract thinking.

I didn’t say it would be easy.

 

(*) frontopolar cortex, medial frontal gyrus, right anterior temporal cortex, lenticular nucleus…

(**) right medial orbitofrontal cortex, medial frontal gyrus, cortex surrounding the right posterior superior temporal sulcus…

 

Please follow and like us:
LinkedIn
Facebook
Facebook
Twitter
Google+
RSS
Follow by Email
SHARE

Related Posts

Burn the Flag. Disobey the Law. Criticize Your Group.

Dear reader, please bear with me on this journey Or don’t. But if you do, then it may be apparent to you that anything about these three is ‘relative’. And even that is relative. In reverse: not giving into them can be very profoundly a symbolic action. For instance, the flag is just a piece Read the full article…

Respect Has Many Faces

which are all related to a sense of morality: respect for the group, for authority, for human suffering… and also respect for ‘me’ which can be ego or total self. Delving towards ‘oneness’ The more one delves into human issues, the more one gets the feeling that everything is related. The deeper one goes, the Read the full article…

In-Group Creates Out-Group?

One frequently encounters the idea that a group gets formed by building defensive walls against other groups. Is this the best way? People are groupish. This is: we like to ‘be in a group’. Yes, with quote signs, because the group may be of very diverse kind. For instance, it may be quite abstract: a Read the full article…